Only one way to see Mockingjay Part 2

Opening night.

I’ve seen all four movies on either Thursday or Friday. But this time around Lionsgate started Thursday night showings earlier. I counted ten showings at my local theater for tonight. I don’t remember that many for any of the other movies.

And as a result I managed to try out my local theater for the first time since their heavy remodeling last year. The auditoriums aren’t as big as other movie theaters and there’s less seating because every chair is a brand new leather recliner. They’re huge.

Anyway, my question tonight is simple. How do you plan on seeing Mockingjay Part 2? And what have you thought of the movies? I’ll have a great post tomorrow morning about the series as a whole.

No, These Book Series are not the Same

A few nights ago I was working a closing shift, right? Which generally means it’s pretty slow toward the end of the night. But then I was awakened by a comment a co worker made. She said Twilight is the same as The Hunger Games. You can imagine my reaction to this.

I couldn’t believe it. And she was quire serious. Though another worker did immediately tell her that she was quite incorrect, I was the only one there who’d actually read any of the books around Katniss. So no one could really jump in with me.

Anyway, sure both series are obviously young adult, but to say that they are the exact same thing is outrageous to me. And disrespectful toward Suzanne Collins. Ugh. Have you ever heard anyone compare two books or series that don’t belong in the same sentence?

Which Authors Would you Invite to Thanksgiving Dinner?

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Photo Credit: Delish

I know Thanksgiving has already passed, but I wanted to post my poem on Thursday and then I thought you guys might like to know about Amazon’s promotion yesterday. So you’re getting a post related to Thanksgiving a bit late. Sue me.

Okay. It’s the beginning of November and you’re trying to figure out who is and who isn’t coming to Thanksgiving dinner. Except this time we’re not talking about family members you see each year. Nope. They’re on vacation in Cozumel. Now you’re inviting some of your favorite authors instead. How exciting!

Let me tell you who I would invite. Michael Connelly, James Patterson, Robert Crais, Robert B. Parker, and Suzanne Collins. The first four all for the same reason. Because they all write truly great detective series that I’ll never be able to compete with. So I’d just pick their brains about writing the genre for a few hours. I probably wouldn’t eat. These guys are heavyweights going strong with no sign of slowing down. Except for Parker, who died a couple years ago.

And Suzanne Collins. Because I’m obsessed with the character she created. I mean, I want to get a freaking Mockingjay pin tattoo. Oooh. Maybe I could get it before she arrives and show her how crazy I am. I’d just tell her everything I love about her stories and Katniss. Then I’d beg to get all three books signed by her AND Katniss herself. Then I’d just die. Right there.

So those are the authors I’d invite to Thanksgiving dinner! What about you? And don’t you dare try saying EL James or Stephenie Meyer. I’ll block you. Not kidding.

I’ve Never Reread a Series of Books…Until Now

Yep. I’m going to do it. It’s hard to believe that I’ve never once gone back and read a series from start to finish a second time. I mean, I know my last two years of reading have been a joke, but since 2010 I’ve read a good number of books (128). I don’t know exactly how many different series are in there, but there are a few. And never once did I tell myself that I wanted to experience it again. Eh. Oh well.

But now I am telling myself that. Why? Because why not. I’m not going to make a habit of this, but there’s really no difference between never having done something and having done it just the one time. So now I should probably tell you which series I’m going to reread, right? Hm. If you’ve read my blog long enough to remember who my favorite character is, then you know the answer. If you’ve read my blog long enough to know my favorite series of books, then you know the answer. Or if you’ve read my short bio on my About Me page, then you may or may not be able to figure out the answer.

Still wondering? Okay. I’m rereading that kinda sorta popular trilogy written by Suzanne Collins. There’s this girl named Katniss, maybe you’ve heard of her? I’m not doing this to refresh my memory of the series. I know it. I know the story. I know the characters. I know what I think of Katniss. I’m doing this because I simply feel like rereading three of my all-time favorite books. That’s it.

I first read the series in the first half of 2012. I loved every book, though I definitely have a favorite of the three. And oh by the way, I’m also doing something else for the first time…I’ve never read a series straight through all at once. I always jump from author to author and series to series in order to diversify my reading habits. I’ll also be continuing that practice, but only after I finish the series.

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Read a Banned Book This Week

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Photo Credit: EventKeeper

I think Banned Books Week actually began yesterday, but I was too busy writing about candlelight to remember that I wanted to write a post about it. Whoops.

So, it’s officially Banned Books Week 2014. Don’t you think this week should be a bit more celebrated than it is? I mean, I would be willing to put a whole lot of money on the fact that no one in my family even knows about it. I wish someone would give me that opportunity so I could become an instant millionaire. But no, no one has asked me to bet any money. It’s an unfortunate occurrence. But now you get to hear about it from me.

Each year the American Library Association releases its annual list of most challenged books. These challenges are not astronomical numbers, but they do happen and come from religious groups, parents, and sometimes even teachers. Don’t be misled by the name of the annual list or by the name of the week itself. These books aren’t banned, just challenged. Well I guess technically some books are actually banned in other parts of the world where banned books is a real thing, but that has nothing to do with what I’m writing here.

So the ALA releases its list relatively early in the year and then celebrates Banned Books Week a little later on. Now I know what you’re wondering. How can you celebrate? Simple, read a book from the list. Or two. Or the top ten. Here’s a refresher of the current list of the most banned books.

1. Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey

2. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian bu Sherman Alexie

4. Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

6.  A Bad Boy can be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

7. Looking for Alaska by John Green

8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

9. Bless me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

10. Bone (series) by Jeff Smith

So there you have the top ten. And if you’re in a celebratory mood and feel like reading one of the books listed, then I’d suggest tackling #5. But that’s just me.

How are you celebrating Banned Books Week?

Also, if you’re interested in my thoughts about each book on the list, check out this post from earlier this year in which I discuss each book.

Pre Release Excitement

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Photo Credit: Lieberman’s Bookstore

Can you believe I’ve once again tricked you into thinking something completely false? I’m about to release a book! I think it’s a major step above my first book and hopefully the story is read by millions around the world. The excitement is getting to be overwhelming.

Oh come on. I KNOW you didn’t believe that. Writing is the last thing on my mind right now.  But I am a little curious about something. We all have our favorite authors who we hate every year for forcing us to wait a full year for their next book, unless we’re talking James Patterson. Of course, you could be like me and have one or several of your favorites no longer living and that just sucks even more. But as I was saying, we all have our favorites whose books we cannot wait to read. We’re tweeting about their upcoming book tour and new book and then writing a nice five star review of the book just a few hours after getting our hands on it (assuming you write reviews).

But what I’m thinking about now is if you have any author(s) who you don’t look at the price or the synopsis or anything about their new books before making your purchase. You see the book is available for pre-order on Amazon and six months ahead of its release date you have made your purchase. Do you have any authors you love so much that you do this? Cause if I’m being honest here…I don’t. I’ve never pre-ordered a single book in my life. Of course, this is a little misleading because it just happens that most of the authors I read released books years before I found them. For example, Suzanne Collins. Or Robert B. Parker. Or Michael Connelly. There are a few who I am aware of their releases each year, but most of the time I wait for the paperback to come out rather than spend a stupid amount of money on a hardcover. There’s a reason my hardcover shelf is about 35% full and my paperback shelf is about 80% full. But that’s just me.

Now tell me, are there any authors who you pre-order books from months or weeks in advance of their release? Or just go to your nearest bookstore and purchase the book on release day? You know my answer to that question, what’s yours?

And did you know that if you pre-order on Amazon you get the book on release day? Unless of course if it’s a Hachette book, then you get it three weeks later. Ha!

Ten Most Haunting Male Literary Characters

ImagePhoto Credit: Bubblews

Recently a survey was conducted of the British public to determine who they believed to be the most haunting male literary characters. Before I read the original article I had two characters immediately come to mind. One made the list and one did not. But who cares who I was thinking, let’s get into the list.

#10. Kevin – We need to Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver

Kevin doesn’t sound all that haunting to me, but I’ve also never read the book. Eh. Moving on.

#9 Caliban – The Tempest, William Shakespeare

I’ve read very little Shakespeare in my life. Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet. When I say I read Hamlet, I mean I listened to the chapter reviews in class so that I could get a 100 on the tests without ever reading a single page. High school is fun like that. I did read Romeo and Juliet and to this day still believe it to be the greatest love story I’ve ever read. So I don’t know who this guy from The Tempest is.

#8 President Coriolanus Snow – The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

WHAT A SURPRISE! Yes, I hate President Snow. Yes, I think of him as being evil. But I did not expect to find his name on this list. Especially when we move along and see some of the other characters who are included. So suck it, President Snow!

#7 Pennywise the clown – It, Stephen King

I haven’t read the book, but I have seen the movie from the 80s? And boy, this guy could easily give you nightmares. Good thing I wasn’t afraid of clowns growing up. Just Chuck E. Cheese.

#6 Frankenstein’s monster – Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

In high school some students were required to read this, but I wasn’t. But I mean, EVERYONE knows this guy. I just hope your take on the story and the character does not come from the movie that was released earlier this year. Because even though I didn’t see it, I know for certain that the movie was nothing like the book. At least that’s what I’ve heard.

#5 Alex – A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

No idea who this is, but I THINK a movie was made from this book? I don’t know.

#4 Mr. Rochester – Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

Well I think some of you may be upset with me, but I also have not read this. But hey, I think Isla Fisher’s character had one of these books given to her by her dad in the movie Definitely, Maybe. And then she didn’t have it. And then Ryan Reynolds found it and kept it forever and ever  before giving it to her and then happily ever after. Good movie. But what the heck am I even talking about now?

#3 Jack Torrance – The Shining, Stephen King

Haven’t read any King. You all should know this by now.

#2 Count Dracula – Dracula, Bram Stoker

Well this is one of the two characters I thought of before reading the list. I’ve written several papers analyzing several aspects of the book and it is easily one of my all-time favorites. I was talking to my sister about the Count just the other day and all I could tell her was that he is the first character who comes to mind when I think of evil. He’s the first character who comes to mind when I think of monster. This story is also the first that comes to mind when I think of good vs. evil or man vs. monster. This book is truly great and the Count is the only character I think of when I think of vampires in literature.

#1 Heathcliff – Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

Unfortunate that I don’t know this character. No commentary from me on the top spot.

Lastly, the only change that I could justifiably make to this list based on what I’ve actually read would be to have Dracula at number one. For all of the reasons that I listed above. He IS evil. He IS haunting. But as for the other character who I thought would make the list, Lord Voldemort. I was quite surprised that he wasn’t named. I mean, we have seven books to realize how bad he really is, whereas these other characters don’t. Remember the London Olympics opening ceremony in 2012? When HE was one of the featured acts when British literature was on display for the entire world to see? I rest my case.

So these are the most haunting male literary characters according to the British public. Do you agree with the list? Were there some characters missing?

You can read the full article that also lists the most haunting female characters here.

*The image is from the NBC series Dracula that was cancelled after just one season. But Mina, who you see in the image, in the show is seriously perfection. Oh my goodness. Just a thought for you all.

And the Most Banned Book of 2013 is…

ImagePhoto Credit: AbeBooks

Actually, I’m not sure if this list is 2013 or 2014, but let’s just say 2013. Eh. Before we delve into the list let me first say that I see no point in banning books at all. Actually, I do have one exception. I apologize beforehand if you happen to be a fan of this author or her writing, but there’s an author on WordPress who writes a series of stories that follow a stepbrother and stepsister who are involved with each other. Sexually. Yeah, ban that. Ban it here. On Amazon. Everywhere. And the titles of the books are so horrible. Ugh. I’m leaving it alone. Other than that, I’d say most everything else is fair game.

10. Bone (series) by Jeff Smith

I honestly have never heard of this series of books. But the reasons listed for its placement on this list were political viewpoint, racism, and violence. I won’t comment because I simply am unaware. I will say that the cover shown in the article I’m referencing looks to be aimed at children. I think it would be understandable for a book aimed toward a younger audience to be included on this list if it has racism and violence.

9. Bless me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

Another book I’m unfamiliar with. The reasons given were Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, and sexually explicit. Hmm. Okay.

8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I haven’t read the book, but I have seen the movie. I thought it was great. But I also find its placement on this understandable. I mean, this is geared toward teens, right? Well the nature and things discussed in the book are definitely serious in nature. The reasons given were drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Can’t say I disagree with any of those. Though this is a book I want to read at some point since I’ve seen the movie.

7. Looking for Alaska by John Green

Hasn’t John Green become something of a superstar recently? I’ve never read his books but I hear his name all the time and see blog posts about him just as often. I assume this is a YA book? The reasons given were drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. And here I thought YA was all about vampires and paranormal romances. Guess not. But then again I have no earthly idea what this about.

6. A Bad Boy Can be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

I’m starting to see a patten here. The reasons given were drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, explicit language, sexually explicit. Never read this. Never will. Moving on.

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

WHAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTT?! Last I checked Katniss isn’t running around having sex with everyone or drinking or smoking or anything besides trying to stay alive! This is stupid. Do I agree with this making the list? No. Do I understand it making the list? No. Do I want to find someone who helped come up with the list and punch them in the face? Yes. The reasons given were religious viewpoint and unsuited to age group. Shut up. Before I get angry.

4. Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James

I can honestly say that there was not single tidbit of surprise in me when I saw this book made the list. I mean, it doesn’t get any more self-explanatory than this, right? I’m not going to list the reasons given because you all know them already. If you don’t, good. Stay away from the internet!

3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Never read, Reasons given were drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. I’m assuming that this is another YA book or geared toward even younger audiences because that seems to always be the case when you see “unsuited to age group.”

2. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

I thought Toni Morrison was one of those authors who everyone loves today? I’ve never read her books, but I swear I’ve read plenty about her. Hm. Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence. What’s with all the sex and drugs in these books? I guess someone’s got to write about it all, right?

1. Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey

Ha. Seriously, this just tells me what a joke this list is. I mean, most of the books are so understandable that explanations aren’t necessary when you see the content you’re dealing with. But this? Really? I remember EVERYONE reading these books when I was in elementary school. I never read one, but everyone else did. Because they were pretty funny, I assume. Reasons: offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence. I’m done. This is no longer relevant. To find this book on the same list as some of the other titles. And I’m seeing here that it’s not the first time it’s made it. Oh well.

So there you have the most banned books of 2013. What do you think? If you’re anything like me, about a third of the list is a laughing stock.

You can read an article about the list on The Huffington Post here.

 

Literary Characters who Should Die

ImagePhoto Credit: A Book Lover’s Diary

I love books. You love books. We know that. But we’ve also all read characters in books who we just wanted to push off the side of a cliff for any number of reasons. Don’t shake your head. Yes you have. Liar.

Anyway, why don’t I just start listing off the characters I’ve disliked so much that I wanted to dedicate an entire post to them.

Draco Malfoy

I actually have a friend who loves Draco. We used to randomly discuss HP and it was before I’d read any of the books and she banned me from ever having an opinion on the series. So what do you think I did, I only talked about the one character I knew she adored, Draco. Ew. What was she thinking. I HATE Draco. Seriously. Yes, I’ve only read the first book in the series, but I already hate him even more than before! The worst part is that she loves Tom Felton too. Huh? But really, Draco should just die. Like right now. I don’t have anything more to say about him.

Keller

You know those books you’re looking forward to reading and you end up being utterly disappointed? That was me when I read Hit Man by Lawrence Block. If you’re unaware, Lawrence Block is a Grand Master with the Mystery Writers of America. He has a large body of work and he’s won eight Edgar Awards. He’s the real deal. So imagine me when I found his series revolving around an assassin by the name of Keller. I thought I’d found a new author and series to read for years to come. Wrong. The book was so bad. I did finish, but man was it awful. Keller would assassinate a random person pretty much every chapter. He wasn’t funny. Likeable. Or anything but boring. Suffice it to say that I won’t be buying another of Mr. Block’s books and definitely not in the Keller series.

Kinsey Millhone

Do not yell at me for this. I am well aware how popular the alphabet series by Sue Grafton is. And I know that Kinsey is Sue Grafton. There have been 23 books written in the series so far, I’ve read letters A-F and S in the series. There’s a book for every letter through W. I’ve always read such raving reviews about her attention to detail and how great Kinsey is as a character. I just don’t feel the same way. At all. I’ve had the book for G on my TBR shelf for years. Years! I’ve started and stopped it twice! To me, Kinsey is awkward and mediocre at her job as a private investigator. She’s not as funny as she thinks. And she drives, at least in the books I’ve read, a Volkswagon Beetle. I mean, no. Just no. But what do I know, right? Not like her books are consistently #1 NYT bestsellers or anything.

President Snow

All you THG fans better feel the same as I do about this guy. Seriously, look what he puts Katniss and Peeta through. Sure, they defied the capitol in their first Games, but EVERYONE loves them! And then to personally threaten her family before she begins her Victory Tour. No. President Snow, go in the arena and eat some poison berries or shoot a fireball at yourself. That’s about all you deserve. I think Donald Sutherland is great as Snow in the movies. To be fair.

Okay, now I’d LOVE to hear about some of the characters you’ve forced yourself to read who you thought were ugly and disgusting and just bad. Tell me!

The Lack of Diversity in my Reading

Photo Credit: Valparaiso, IN

Before I continue with this post, I’d like to let you know that I’ll be talking about the lack of racial diversity in my reading. But I know that some people see anything Race related and automatically turn away, which is why I left it out of the title. The topic of racial diversity in publishing will NOT be discussed. This time. We’re strictly talking about my reading. Let’s begin.

One more point that I need to make before moving on is that in no way am I saying that these books, authors, or series are any less worthy of reading. We’re talking about me.

I’ve talked quite a bit about my reading habits on here. I mean, I have three different pages that are dedicated to books I’ve already read or want to in the future. And obviously reading is a big part of any discussion about books, so it makes sense to devote a good amount of space on here to my reading. But I realized something earlier today that I honestly hadn’t noticed before. It was something of a shock, actually. A huge percentage of the books I read not only have White protagonists, but they’re written by White authors. I can assure you that this was not done on purpose. That would be me saying that protagonists or authors of another Race are less worthy of reading. Absolutely not. I’m Mexican! Yes, I realize that in itself does not mean much, but I’m a Mexican author too. I want EVERYONE to read my books. And quite honestly, I believe my audience to be middle-aged, educated, White women. This is based off of the author events I’ve attended for writers in my genre. I saw the same person in the audience over and over again. I can tell you for certain that I was the youngest at every event I attended. By decades.

Anyway, let’s get back on topic. Let me tell you about some of the series and authors I read.

Authors

James Patterson – White

Suzanne Collins – White

Lee Child – White

Steve Hamilton – White

Robert B. Parker – White

Robert Crais – White

You get the point. There are more but it is not MOSTLY the same, it is EXACTLY the same. There is one author out of all of my books who is not White. Michele Martinez. I do have all of her books, but she only has four. Now let’s look at the protagonists I read.

Series

Spenser – White

Katniss Everdeen – White

Harry Bosch – White

Elvis Cole – White

Kinsey Millhone – White

Alex McKnight – White

Merci Rayborn – White

There are a whopping two series I read that revolve around non-White protagonists. Alex Cross, who is African-American. And Melanie Vargas. This is disappointing to me. Quite so.

I can guarantee that the Race of the main character is never once mentioned in any of these series, except for Alex Cross and Melanie Vargas. It’s not mentioned because it’s so obvious to the reader that it never needs to be mentioned.

I love all of the authors I’ve listed, all of them. Their books and writing and careers all speak for themselves. But I can’t wrap my head around the fact that I consider myself an avid reader and yet, it would appear that I’m an avid reader of the exact same thing over and over again. I’m sure plenty of readers are the same way, but I don’t want that to be the case with me. I want to be a well-rounded reader because there are plenty of great writers out there who are worthy of reading but may not be well known. It’s time for me to make an effort to read more books that follow a Black protagonist or Mexican or whomever, along with the series I already enjoy.

And the absolute worst part of all this, and I do mean the worst, is that I wrote a protagonist who is me in every aspect…except Race. And I’ll even tell you why. Because I thought him being White would attract more readers than him being Mexican. I sincerely love Andrew and the character I’ve created, but I HATE that I did that. Hate it. I don’t know if this is me conforming to the publishing industry or what, but I need to figure out whether I want to write the stories I want to write or whether I’m writing what I think might get me published one day. They may or may not be the same thing. Which is unfortunate.

I know my posts are typically witty, funny, and informative, but this was a post I needed to write for me.

Thanks for reading.

I ask that you glance over at your bookshelf and see if you find the same problem I did.